Unless you excused yourself for whatever reason you were there for at least fifteen minutes listening to his philosophy. The problem was that Moe was friends with the person managing our contract so we had to put up with him.
The first thing you can do about the pontificator at your meeting is to take a good hard look at whether the pontificator absolutely needs to be at the meeting. Will the pontificator contribute valuable content and perspective that will add value to the meeting? If not avoid having the pontificator at the meeting in the first place.
If the pontificator needs to be there, try to talk with him beforehand and solicit his help in keeping the meeting moving forward. Spend a few minutes reviewing the agenda and get him oriented to the meeting topic. If he has opinions or viewpoints that he wants to air, get him to do it with you beforehand and try to incorporate some of his viewpoint into the topic. If he sees that he has been heard and if some of his thinking is baked into your agenda, the pontificator is more likely to be a good soldier and not hijack your meeting.
If you’ve taken this step and the pontificator still feels the need to take control of your meeting, your next mission is to preserve the purpose of the meeting, keep things focused on the agenda, and avoid wasting any of the other attendee’s time. It is vitally important that you monitor what your pontificator is saying and keep them focused on the agenda item. If he continues to drift off topic onto his own agenda item ask to have the item taken offline. If it continues then it is completely within bounds to cut the person off and bring things back to your agenda. Whatever you do, don’t lose control of the agenda. Your credibility is at stake with other meeting attendees; losing control of the agenda means a loss of credibility, which you’ll now need to work to regain.
Pontificators don’t have to spell doom and gloom to your meetings. If you can ensure that they truly need to be involved in the meeting, get them on your side, and control them when they veer off path, you can still get things done when they are involved.
Keynote Speaker | Board Director | Autism Advocate | Author | Project Management Expert | Microsoft/Accenture Veteran
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